The CCASA team deals with business finances every day. We love seeing our clients run successful businesses that are both compliant and profitable. But to help people who are really struggling financially—and in every possible way—really makes our hearts sing. So in May this year CCASA Director Craig Stevens set off for Zambia to work with House of Hope Africa (HOHA).
In 2013 Craig was fortunate to meet Michael and Christine Mesiti, the co-founders of HOHA, at a local church. Michael and Christine had a vision to equip and empower vulnerable women, children and families living in impoverished areas through practical and sustainable approaches. In 2014 they relocated to Africa and since then have been building local teams and facilitating programs within one of Zambia’s largest compounds. It’s amazing to see the impact they’re having!
In Zambia’s poorest communities, starting a business or getting an education is not easy. Just getting one full meal a day is the priority for many families and for some the only meal they receive is during HOHA programs. “The hardest part is knowing how much wastage we have here in Australia,” said Craig after his trip. “$50 a month would have a massive impact in Zambia and we all waste so much more than this every week!” If you’ve been watching ABC’s War on Waste series, you’ll know what he’s talking about.
As a director of HOHA, Craig visited Zambia to see first-hand the value that the organisation brings to communities in the compound and he quickly discovered how incredible the programs are. It’s common in Africa for children to leave school at a young age to work and help provide for their families. HOHA supports these kids to get back to school while making sure their families are encouraged, empowered and equipped. The students also receive food as part of this program to help them to better learn and thrive—more than 120 plates of food are gobbled up each week!
The extreme poverty of the compound sees preventable diseases causing major health and hygiene problems, and even deaths in the community. HOHA works with local and international medical organisations to provide services that directly save lives, like emergency treatment, consultation and transport. Only this week, in one HOHA program, de-worming medication was administered to 60 children and families along with daily multivitamins to help boost the children’s immune systems.
CCASA has an invested interest in HOHA’s microfinance loans program—a practical scheme that empowers women to create sustainable futures for their families. HOHA learned that when women were widowed (which is fairly common in Zambia) they found it incredibly difficult to provide for their children. The poverty effect would then trickle down from generation to generation making it nearly impossible to turn things around. The microfinance loans program offers interest-free business loans to vulnerable widows based on individual assessments.
This means they can start much-needed businesses in their local communities without the debt. One widow recently set up a samosa/food sales business while another established a paraffin floor polish business. Once the loan is paid back, the money is loaned to another vulnerable woman. And on it goes. 100% of these loans have seen no less than two children from each widow’s family return to mainstream schooling.
“HOHA is an uplifting community program—one that gives a hand up, rather than a hand out,” Craig said of HOHA’s overall success. “It empowers the community, the children. It teaches them to stand up, go to school, and be self sufficient through education and resources. You don’t give someone a fish, you teach them to fish.”
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